The Maharashtra cabinet on Wednesday decided that the state could make a law to prevent attacks on journalists, but with a rider.
The cabinet also wants to have a legal provision to deter journalists from malpractices and bring them to book, if need be. A minister, who attended the meeting, said except for home minister RR Patil, all the other ministers were in favour of protection from ‘yellow journalism.”
After the meeting, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said a cabinet sub-committee would deliberate on devising a mechanism to keep check on journalists. “We are serious about making the law, but then we felt that we should also have arrangement to redress complaints against journalists.”
Chavan said he would try to place the draft bill in the monsoon session of the assembly. Several journalist organisations have been demanding the law for years but no concrete action was taken so far. The issue of enacting such a law has come to fore again in the wake senior journalist J Dey murder.
The umbrella action committee of journalists, Patrakar Halla Virodhi Kriti Samiti, accused the state government of cheating. “We never said no to have a code of conduct for journalists. In fact, former CM Ashok Chavan accepted the draft, which the new CM has rejected for reasons best known to him. We don’t understand why the government wants to buy time by appointing a Cabinet sub-committee,” said samiti president SM Deshmukh.